SABR

Fall 2013

Volume 42, Issue 2

  • Baseball’s First Bill Veeck By Jack Bales

    What with Bill Veeck Jr.’s gregarious nature, numerous achievements, and well-known career as “a champion of the little guy” (to quote from his Hall of Fame plaque), it is not surprising that writers have penned quite a few profiles of the flamboyant baseball executive. On the other hand, regrettably little ink has been spilled in coverage of his father, the lesser-known Veeck Sr., an “unsung hero in MLB history.”

  • More Whimpers Than Bangs: How Batters Perform When “It’s the World Series and they’re down to their final out” By Steven P. Gietschier

    We all know that baseball games lack an arbitrary end. No clock means that the participants determine not only when the game will end but also when it will not end. There are thousands of instances when the offense fails and the game ends, maybe dramatically and maybe not, with a strikeout, a fly ball, a line drive, or a mesmerizing fielder’s choice at second. But what about those times when the game doesn’t end, when the guy in the on-deck circle yells “Save me a lick,” and the batter does just that, when the announcer says, “They’re down to their final out,” and yet the game goes on? What about those at-bats that might end the entire World Series, but don’t?

  • The Veracity of Veeck By Norman L. Macht and Robert D. Warrington

    In his excellent biography of Bill Veeck, author Paul Dickson tackles the controversy over whether National League president Ford Frick and/or Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis blocked Veeck’s attempt to buy the Phillies in 1942 and field a team of players from the Negro Leagues. Authors Macht and Warrington are still skeptical—not that Veeck didn’t consider or even inquire into buying the Phillies, and not that he didn’t think and talk about and desire to integrate baseball—but that Ford Frick or Judge Landis was responsible for stopping him.

  • The Hearst Sandlot Classic: More than a Doorway to the Big Leagues By Alan Cohen

    Set against the backdrop of a country emerging from war, and entering into a period of prosperity, the Hearst Sandlot Classic for 20 years offered a showcase for young baseball talent. Many of those who participated signed professional contracts and others were able to obtain scholarships to further their education. Everyone who participated gained memories to last a lifetime.

  • Fate and the Federal League: Were the Federals Incompetent, Outmaneuvered, or Just Unlucky? By Bob Ruzzo

    For years, the convention has been to view the Federal League, the last challenger to actually take the field against Organized Baseball, as having been doomed from the start, ultimately suffering an “inevitable collapse.” Upon closer examination, however, the events of the Federal League war demonstrate once again that certainty is most expertly determined in hindsight. For while the distance of a century cloaks the demise of the Federal League with an air of dreary predictability, its struggle against the baseball establishment was, like so many other “wars,” determined to a significant extent by chance and circumstance.

  • Clutch Hitting in the Major Leagues: A Psychological Perspective By Leonard S. Newman

    Sabermetricians have been arguing about the reality of clutch hitting for quite some time now. Existing research has, for all intents and purposes, been based on the assumption that major league ballplayers vary significantly in the psychological characteristics associated with clutch hitting. What might those characteristics be? And is it reasonable to expect major leaguers to represent different levels of those characteristics? If not, what are the implications for the search to find convincing and replicable evidence for clutch hitting?

  • Is a Major League Hitter Hot or Cold? By Megan Liedtke Tesar, Anne C. Marx, and David D. Marx

    Many major league baseball games are decided in the final innings or outs of a game. For that reason, it would be beneficial for team managers to know which player on their team has the highest probability of getting on base or getting the game-winning hit. The probability, however, will differ depending on whether the player is hot or cold. The goal of this study is to use hidden Markov models to determine when players are hot or cold and to determine how their batting averages differ between these two states.

  • When Did Frank Baker Become "Home Run" Baker? By Steven A. King

    The story of how Frank Baker, the Philadelphia Athletics star third baseman, earned the nickname of “Home Run” is well known to even casual fans of baseball. As his Hall of Fame plaque states, he “won two World Series games from [the] Giants in 1911 with home-runs thus getting name ‘Home Run’ Baker.” Although this story of how Baker’s famous nickname came about has become a well accepted piece of baseball lore, it isn't quite accurate. In fact, Baker was tagged with his famous sobriquet even before he had hit his first regular season major league home run and at least as early as spring training of his rookie year with the Athletics.

  • Preferences Between Baseball and Fastpitch Softball Amongst Female Baseball Players By Justine Siegal and Andy Li-An Ho

    Baseball is a male-dominated sport. Softball is often considered to be the “female counterpart” to baseball. Despite limited playing opportunities, girls and women are playing baseball. The purpose of the present study was to explore the preferences of female baseball players regarding the differences between baseball and fastpitch softball.

  • The Way the Game Is Supposed to Be Played: George Kell, Ted Williams, and the battle for the 1949 batting title By Mark Randall

    Entering the last game of the 1949 baseball season, George Kell was locked in a close race with Ted Williams for the American League batting title. It was one of the closest batting races in baseball history — decided by two ten-thousandths of a point.

  • The Mystery of Jack Smith’s Runs By John D. Eigenauer

    One would guess that several factors influence a player’s ability to score runs, including speed, his position in the lineup, the batting ability of other players in his lineup, and his own power. Players who combine these factors could be expected to score a high percentage of the times that they reach base. However, the list of players ranking highest in runs scored per time on base is peppered with players one would never expect.

  • Debs Garms, the Bioproject, and I By Greg Erion

    The SABR BioProject is not only a boon to readers, but to the researchers who create the articles. The research has fulfilled curiosity and generated enjoyment for countless SABR members seeking to learn more about the lives of childhood heroes or members of a favorite team. Here's one example.

  • The 20/30 Game Winner: An Endangered/Extinct Species By John E. Daniels and Steve Kuehl

    The first part of this article is a statistical analysis on the history of 20-game winners and possible factors contributing to their decline. The second part is a qualitative analysis comparing two historic pitching seasons — Denny McLain’s 31 wins in 1968 and Justin Verlander’s 24 wins in 2011 — in an attempt to better understand pitching success from two different baseball periods.

  • Game Score vs. Starter Score By J.T. Grossmith

    The deficiencies in Bill James' pitching stat Game Score wouldn’t be such a big deal if it had remained a fun stat, as the creator intended to be, but in recent years it has been elevated in status to that of the authoritative method for measuring a starter’s performance.

  • The Team with the Most On-Base Percentage Titles By Bill Nowlin

    Tthere is one team in baseball which has a disproportionate number of on-base percentage champions to its credit: the Boston Red Sox. Ted Williams' success alone (12 OBP titles) gives the Red Sox a head start, but he's not the only Boston player to lead the league.

  • Additional Corrections in the Official Records (1920–44) of Runs Scored for Detroit Tigers Players By Herm Krabbenhoft

    In a previous article, the author provided the corrections of the run-scored errors he discovered in the official records for Detroit Tigers players during the 1920–44 seasons. In his subsequent R/RBI research, he has followed a more rigorous research procedure — first ascertaining the complete details for each and every run scored in a game during a season and then comparing these R/RBI results with the R/RBI stats in baseball‘s official day-by-day records.

  • The Future of Baseball Contracts: A Look at the Growing Trend in Long-Term Contracts By Jim Turvey

    Baseball contracts seem to be headed increasingly in the same direction; teams are trying to lock up their younger (particularly homegrown) stars to long-term deals before they hit the free agent market, which would drive up the price for a player. These contracts carry “boom or bust” potential for both the player and the franchise. In the player’s case, he is guaranteeing himself a great deal of money, but at the same time, he is putting a ceiling on his earnings. He is potentially giving up an even greater sum if he were to hit the open market of free agency.

  • Prospects, Promotions and Playoff Races: Do They Bring Fans to Minor League Games? By David C. Ogden, John Shorey and Kevin Warneke

    Minor league baseball has undergone a resurgence, exemplified by record-setting attendance and a growing number of new ballparks. Much research has focused on factors that drive attendance. Chief among those factors is promotions, with numerous studies showing that giveaways and sponsored off-the-field activities at games can increase gate receipts. The quality of the team and the draw of the game itself may play a lesser role, at least at the minor league level.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: Bill Carle By Rob Neyer

    Carle has been a SABR member since 1977 and has served as chairman of SABR's Biographical Research Committee since 1988. Carle has attended every National Convention since 1979, when he was inspired by Cliff Kachline's and Joe Simenic's discussion of tracking down accurate birth and death data for major league players. Carle grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and has been a diehard Royals fan for many years. His work on biographical data continues, and the Biographical Research Committee regularly announces new discoveries.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: Paul Dickson By Steven P. Gietschier

    Dickson is the author of more than 55 books, is best known in the baseball research community for the award-winning The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, now in its third edition. Dickson has also written several other key baseball books, including The Unwritten Rules of Baseball, The Hidden Language of Baseball, The Joy of Keeping Score, Baseball: The Presidents’ Game (with William B. Mead), and most recently, Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: Fred Lieb By Daniel R. Levitt

    Lieb started writing for Baseball Magazine in 1909 and was still contributing to The Baseball Research Journal 67 years later. In between he was one of baseball’s top New York sportswriters and a key correspondent for The Sporting News.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: Francis Richter By Lyle Spatz

    Richter was the founder and editor of Sporting Life for its entire existence, from 1883 until 1917. He was also the first editor of the American League Reach Guide, which he edited until he died 25 years later. His book Richter’s History and Records of Baseball, published in 1914, is one of the seminal works in baseball history.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: John Thorn By Christina Kahrl

    Thorn is the Official Historian of Major League Baseball, an honor that reflects his incomparable contributions to baseball history. In partnership with Pete Palmer, he created The Hidden Game of Baseball and Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, not only a complete record of the game's statistical history, but one that included sabermetric analysis. He also served as senior creative consultant to Ken Burns’s Baseball.

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